Contagious Diseases and Disasters
CDC works 24/7 to keep America safe. Our disease detectives, world-class scientists, and medical experts are ready to stop disease outbreaks and respond to disasters whenever and wherever they strike.
- A new health threat can appear at any time. New contagious diseases may only be a plane ride away from your hometown.
- Many kinds of viruses and bacteria can threaten people’s health and sometimes kill even otherwise healthy people.
CDC disease detectives respond to disease threats.
- Contagious diseases can spread on their own or through a deliberate bioterror attack.
- Flu already is dangerous—and new, potentially deadly strains can appear at any time, sparking a pandemic.
- Highly contagious: Tuberculosis. CDC helped reduce the number of cases of tuberculosis in the U.S. from 25,103 in 1993 to 11,182 in 2010.
- Highly contagious: Flu. CDC identified the 2009 H1N1 virus. Our vaccination and rapid-information campaigns helped prevent 5-10 million infections, 150,000 hospitalizations, and 1,500 deaths in the U.S.
- Highly contagious: Cholera. CDC helped prevent 7,000 cholera deaths after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
- Highly contagious: Measles. The measles vaccine has saved 13.8 million lives from 2000–2012.
- Highly contagious: H7N9 Influenza A. Like Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), health threats keep coming—and CDC stands ready to protect the public’s health.
CDC is on 24/7 because natural and manmade disasters can occur at any time. Many different health threats follow in the wake of disasters..
- Threat. Outbreak following a natural disaster. CDC investigated a fungal infection associated with victims of the 2011 tornado in Joplin, Missouri, 2011.
- Threat. When Japan was struck by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011, a damaged nuclear power plant experienced a meltdown. CDC’s scientific support and advice helped minimize the risk.
- Threat. Health threats crossing borders. CDC trains health professionals around the world so they can rapidly detect diverse outbreaks in their own countries, stopping them before they become global threats.
When a health threat appears, we may not know right away why or how many people are affected, but we have world-class expertise to find out what is making people sick or die and what to do about it.
CDC is the nation’s health protection agency.
- Page last reviewed: February 24, 2016
- Page last updated: February 24, 2016
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